You’ve worked hard to set up your own business, you’ve studied hard to get all your qualifications, you’re an expert at what you do… and you’re barely making ends meet. Is it because there isn’t work out there? No, even in times of recession people always need tradies for repairs and renovations; if you’re not getting work it’s because people haven’t heard of you. As a tradie, good marketing skills are every bit as important as good practical skills, if not more so. Let’s have a look at some of the things you can do to get your name out there and start picking up the level of business your skills deserve.

A great way of expanding your business is going into partnership with other tradies who specialise in a different area, for example if you are a plasterer, electricians often need people in that trade to make good when they have finished their work, general builders often call in specialist gas fitters or plumbers to finish houses, and so on. Estate agents are also worth getting acquainted with, as they often need repairs and renovations to rental properties or smartening up jobs done on houses for sale.

The oldest form of advertising in the world is word-of-mouth, and if you do good work you will benefit from this; everyone prefers to employ a tradie that they know has done a good job for somebody else as opposed to a stranger. Try and encourage this form of marketing as much as you can: when you finish a job, leave a few of your business cards with the customer and ask them to mention you if anyone is looking for your trade. You could even offer special promotions such as 10% off if a customer refers a friend.

A good website is always a wise investment for marketing. Virtually everybody goes to the Internet to find what they need these days, so make sure you are there with an attractive, easy to use website that makes it clear what you offer and how you can be contacted. Get somebody who knows about SEO to optimise your text so it’s most likely to come up in searches. Also, make sure that your website works well on mobile phones. Lots of trades like plumbers and electricians rely a good deal on emergency work, and people looking for tradies in a hurry will most likely be doing so on their smartphone.

Once you’ve got the website, go to Google and get a free My Business listing. My Business listings appear over standard search results, showing people who are searching what local businesses are available. You can also post photos with your listings, and according to Google this can add nearly a third to the number of people who click through to your website and nearly half as much again of people asking for driving directions to your business.

Networking isn’t just for fancy businessmen and women, it’s something anyone trying to run whatever business ought to be considering. There are so many online business groups these days, you’re bound to find one for your area; get on there and start meeting those fellow tradies who might be able to put work your way. In the real world, consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce or other business organisations, and even if you’re just down the local footy club or pub, always have a few business cards with you to hand out to potential customers.

The biggest networking opportunity in the world, of course, is social media. You can interact with potential customers, share pictures of your work, answer any questions, get feedback, and hopefully see your customers sharing their appreciation of your efforts as well. It’s a big world on social media, remember, and there are many different outlets, so just focus on a couple and try to make your presence there really striking by putting time and effort in. Regular updates are a must – nothing makes a business looks so moribund and amateurish as going to their Facebook page and finding nothing has been posted in a year.

Just because you’re using social media, don’t neglect the use of traditional advertising: get your business name and number on your van, put up signs where you’re working, pay for letterbox drops (or do them yourself), take out an ad in the local paper, and so on. Try to make your advertising eye-catching and snappy, and try and have a website name and phone number that stick in the memory. If you’ve got glowing customer testimonials, put them on your advertising (make sure the customers are okay with this first). Make sure that all advertising has a number of different ways of contacting you so the customer can choose their preferred method. Something else that is attractive to customers is offering multiple ways to pay: as society becomes ever more cashless and many people don’t even own cheque-books anymore, consider investing in a PayPal business account or other online payment system so you can be paid electronically.

Marketing certainly takes a lot of effort, but it will repay your hard work if you do it right. The one thing you don’t want to do, therefore, is to lose all the rewards of your hard work because of one simple error or accident, which is what can happen if you don’t have good liability insurance. Public Liability Insurance have a range of affordable insurance packages especially designed for tradies like you to ensure that if the worst comes to the worst, you won’t lose your business. Visit our website and find out why we offer the best liability insurance for tradies in the country.